Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 120, Issue 1–2, pp 9–26 | Cite as

Roderick K. Clayton: a life, and some personal recollections

  • Colin A. Wraight


Roderick K. Clayton passed away on October 23, 2011, at the age of 89, shortly after the plan for this dedicatory issue of Photosynthesis Research had been hatched. I had just written a lengthy letter to him to re-establish contact after a hiatus of 2 or 3 years, and to suggest that I visit him to talk about his life. It isn’t clear whether he saw the letter or not, but it was found at his home in Santa Rosa, California. Fortunately, Rod has written two memoirs for Photosynthesis Research that not only cover much of his research on reaction centers (Photosynth Res 73:63–71, 2002) but also provide a humorous and honest look at his personal life (Photosynth Res 19:207–224, 1988). I cannot hope to improve on these and will try, instead, to fill in some of the gaps that Rod’s own writing has left, and offer some of my own personal recollections over the more recent years.


Roderick K. Clayton William Arnold Rhodospirillum rubrum Rhodobacter sphaeroides Phototaxis Photosynthetic reaction center 



I am indebted to Mrs. Ann Williams, Rod’s daughter, for all her help in piecing together details of Rod’s early life. It would have been an impoverished version without her willingness to answer so many questions. She was truly a fount of information, as well as the source of many of the photos that I have used in this memoir. Unfortunately, the true provenance of most of the photos is unknown.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Center for Biophysics & Computational BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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